Outside The Bubble

Yesterday I was out in the world with my husband, aka The Birthday Boy. We had a good time, but I had two incidents as a result of my visual impairment.

First, we stopped for coffee at Wawa. For those of you not familiar with Wawa, I am sorry for you, but you can learn about it by clicking here. The Birthday Boy offered to help me with the self-serve coffee, but I assured him I could do it myself. I found the regular coffee because it was printed in very large font on the coffee urn, and I placed the cup and burn sleeve, which I had gotten on my own, under the tap. I have a problem with depth perception, and although I didn’t overflow it, the cup was so full not a milli-drip would have fit. Help, Birthday Boy!

The second occurrence was in a ladies room stall. I misjudged the door opening, and scratched and banged my arm on the door latch. I’ve got a bad scrape mark and a bruise will no doubt be arriving soon to an elbow near me.

It’d be easy to stay home where it’s safe and comfortable. Sometimes it’s tempting, but I won’t give into that temptation. I’m going back out there today. So what if I’ll be covered in bubble wrap?

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Pimp(le) My Arm

Could someone please tell me how a 50-year-old woman gets a pimple on the side of her arm between the elbow and the wrist? I know this is called the forearm but I am too upset about my pimple to use proper body part verbiage. I mean, I am to upset about the 50-year-old woman’s pimple. And SHE says it hurts!

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A Love Story – Part 8

I told the woman at the rescue that we would love to adopt one of the two birds we were still  considering on a Tuesday. I made arrangements with her to come to the rescue that coming Sunday, August 26th, 2012 to bring him home. We discussed what type of cage and travel cage we would need, as well as food and toys that our bird liked. OUR bird. I already thought of him that way.

I called my husband as soon as I hung up with the rescue. I had a crack in my voice as I told him everything that had been said and that we had the rescue’s blessing to adopt this young male conure. The woman from the rescue had reiterated to me that this bird had never responded to anyone but my husband and me. This and the interactions with him during our visit had made our decision for us. Also, when we found out he had been there for two years as compared to the newer arrivals, my husband especially found this to be the scale tipper.

That Saturday, we headed to Burlington, NJ to a bird store we had heard about, Bird Paradise. Its website boasts it is “The World’s Largest Exotic Bird Super Store”, and they ain’t lying. We were picking our feathered friend up the next day, so we were under the gun to get everything we needed. I took a list of the things the rescue had recommended, yet even with that in hand, and pictures of our bird’s current cage and toys, I still had to call and text the rescue several times. Although we had to move quickly, I wanted to do everything possible to make the move as stress-free for this little guy, who had been through so much. His leg band showed he was hatched in Florida, had somehow ended up at the rescue in New York, which eventually moved to New Jersey. And now, his last move, to Pennsylvania.

We were at the bird store for several hours and left with food and toys and a huge cage that would need to be put together that night. Its box barely fit in my small SUV. We made one more stop at a local pet store to pick up a small travel cage. We spent the night putting together the cage and pimping it out with toys and perches. When we were done, the size of this cage, coupled with all the things for our bird to play with, warranted a name that has replaced the word “cage”. It was christened that evening as the “mansion”.

Everything was ready. We had provided our application to the rescue on our first visit. It included references and our history as bird people and other information about our lives. Normally, the rescue does home visits before approving an adoption, but given our distance from the rescue and our experience with our first bird, Cato, the rescue asked us to please bring some pictures of our home along when we came to pick up our boy. 

This was a huge commitment. We knew it and we were ready. Only 25 days had passed since I found our bird online, but that last night without him seemed infinitely long. 

To be continued . . .

Previous chapters of ‘A Love Story’:

Part IPart IIPart IIIPart 4Part 5Part 6Part 7

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A Love Story – Part 7

 We returned to the bird rescue the following weekend, on August 18th, 2012. My husband and I spent a lot of time thinking individually and then discussing the three conures we had met the week before. Piper, T and G were all beautiful birds but ran the personality gamut. T wanted nothing more than to have his head and neck rubbed constantly. I caught a tear in my husband’s eye on the first visit to the rescue, as he watched me rub T. I had done this with our first bird, Cato, when he was still wth us. G was a character and would sing and talk a few phrases over and over. And Piper, the orange-fronted conure I had discovered on and brought us to the rescue, was a bit standoffish. All were nippy at times which was to be expected. They were living in a rescue with 200 other birds, after coming from families or pet stores or God knows where. 

During our discussions during the week, I told my husband I was disappointed in Piper’s unfriendliness, although he did “step up” for us and allow us to pick him up . . . after our tentativeness rewarded us with some bites. I certainly wanted the right bird for us and to be the best family for the bird, but I did feel an allegiance to the bird that brought us. I told my husband of my disappointment that Piper didn’t seem all that into us. My husband told me that when Piper was on the play stand and hadn’t wanted to be picked up, he was watching our every move as we interacted with the other birds. It both broke my heart and made it soar. I was not giving up on Piper. 

All three birds were around the same age. We knew that conures live 20-30 years and all three were around the same age, five or six years old. After much discussion, we decided G wasn’t quite what we were looking for, but this elimination of him from the running made me sad. I wanted to save them all. My husband didn’t have a doubt that G would find a good home. 

When we arrived at the rescue on the 18th, we told the woman at there that we had narrowed it down to T and Piper. We spent the afternoon there again, getting to know both of them better and asking questions about their histories and their habits. We rubbed T until our fingers cramped and let Piper climb all over us. We got nipped again, a lot, but we weren’t deterred. We understood these birds were defensive because whatever had brought them to the rescue had to be traumatic.

We left after several hours, with so much to think about. We were both quiet during the two-hour drive home, then finally asked each other which conure we thought we should adopt, which bird we would be best for. It was very important to us that we be the right choice for the bird too.

We spent the next few days discussing and thinking and feeling. There were a lot of factors to consider, including the way the birds had connected with us, how long they had been at the rescue, what we were looking for personality-wise, what the women running the rescue thought about each bird. I was, at times, so worried about the bird we wouldn’t choose that it clouded my decision-making process.

Finally, after much soul-searching by us both, we knew in our hearts which bird had chosen us. Three years ago today, I called the rescue and told her, that if he would have us, and if she gave her blessing, we wanted to be one of the conure’s forever family.

And through this wonderful woman, he said yes.

To be continued . . .

Previous chapters of ‘A Love Story’:

Part IPart IIPart IIIPart 4Part 5Part 6

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A Call And A Prayer

I did something big today. I called my neuro-ophthalmologist’s office. I am a patient at one of the top ophthalmology hospitals in the country, and I was supposed to phone them at least six months ago. The purpose of the call was to see how the clinical trials that could lead to my full vision recovery are going, and also to see if there were any other new treatments coming down the pike for me.

Initially, my reluctance to make the call was a self -defense move. I couldn’t make the call because I was afraid there would be no good news. I realize there could very well be new options for my sight, but the chance of disappointment outweighed any other possibility in my mind.

As time went on, I didn’t even think about making the call until someone would ask me if I had. I have been so focused on creating a new, full life for myself, that I didn’t know how to attack the future and yet also hold on to the hope of regaining my sight. I didn’t know how to work hard, every day, doing new things to take the place of the old things I can no longer do, and also put the time and energy into hoping for a cure. I’m either all in with this new and very different life, or longing for the old one. It’s a very weird place to be.

Of course, I want nothing more than to have my full sight back. It’s what I wish for at every birthday and at every superstitious, old wives’ tale moment. And yet, what I pray for every night is that I find a new life for myself, as a fulfilled visually challenged person, for that is my current struggle.

But today I made the call. I felt strong hitting the call button on my iPhone. As everyone close to me knew, one day I would just do it. Today was that day.

Sadly, there is nothing right now as far as treatments or clinical trials for me. I’m supposed to call them again in six months, as the world of medicine these days is a world of miracles.

Between now and February, I will continue to reinvent myself. I’ll also add ‘full vision recovery’ to my prayers. Writing this blog post has made me realize that I’ve stopped praying for a miracle. And I can’t give up before the miracle happens. Even I can see that.

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A Love Story – Part 6

When I spoke to the woman who ran the bird rescue about Piper on August 2nd, 2012, I explained our bird parent history and how we had come to the decision to adopt five years after the passing of our cockatiel, Cato. We chatted a bit longer and then she indicated there were two other conures at the rescue we might be interested in, instead of Piper. As is often the philosophy in animal adoption, the thought was the best bird for us would choose us, so it was best to meet and interact with a few birds to find the best connection.

I made an appointment to visit the rescue on August 11th and she asked me to print and fill out the application that was on their website and bring it along.

I was fully sighted back then, and I did the driving. It took us almost two hours and the ride was filled with nervousness and excitement. Now that we were on our way to the rescue, we wanted it all to go smoothly and find the right bird for us.

As we drove up the long driveway, even with the car windows up and radio on, we could hear birds squawking and talking and whistling. We met the woman who runs the rescue, which is also her home. She went to get Piper from one of the buildings on the property as we waited near her house door. She returned quickly, holding a towel to her chest. As soon as we got in the house, she removed the towel and there was Piper.

We went into her large living room, lined with bird cages and full of birds of many different sizes and species and noise levels. My instinct to save them all kicked in but I forced myself to focus on the orange-fronted conure who had brought us here. He had been put on a bird play stand as he readjusted his feathers after being scooped up in the towel. I spoke to him quietly while he preened and seemed to have no interest in us. Or so I thought.

We also met two other birds that day, a red-throated conure I will call T, and a blue-crowned conure I will call G. G already spoke some phrases and T just wanted his neck rubbed. Piper was the most indifferent, although he too knew the “step up” command and would come to us easily. He liked to use my hair to climb up onto the top of my head, perhaps to show us that he was in charge, above us all.

We were there all afternoon, spending time with the three birds and others, a bit overwhelmed by the number of birds needing homes and the work this rescue was doing. We made an appointment to come back the next weekend and we were asked to narrow our bird pool from three to two by then. Piper was placed back in the towel to be returned to his cage in the other building and we all walked out of the house together. I said goodbye to him as we got in the car. We left with some sore fingers from being nipped and spinning heads, thinking of Piper, T and G.

To be continued . . .

Previous chapters of ‘A Love Story’:

Part IPart IIPart IIIPart 4Part 5

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